An official keel laying ceremony has taken place at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy, with a traditional Chinese lion dance to bring good luck and a blessing by a priest.
The 500-tonne keel – the bottom of the ship – was ceremoniously lowered into position on keel blocks by crane, so that work can begin to customize the yet-to-be-named ship for the Chinese market.
More than two million man-hours will go into building the 3,600-passenger ship, which will remain in the building dock until float out next summer.
“We’re incredibly excited to mark this step in the ship’s construction,” said Anthony Kaufman, Princess Cruises’ senior vice president of Asia operations, who travelled to Italy for the ceremony.
“We’re very pleased to be working with our long-term partner, Fincantieri, on our newest ship and we appreciate their partnership and collaboration to customise and tailor the ship for the Chinese market.”
Cherry Wang, director of Carnival China, who also travelled to Italy for the ceremony, said: “The lion dance has been part of the Chinese culture for thousands of years and is performed on various auspicious occasions and celebrations.
“According to traditional Chinese belief, the lion signifies courage, wisdom, and good fortune and brings happiness, longevity, and good luck.
We believe this special ceremony will bring prosperity and good fortune to Princess Cruises and our guests in China.”
The new Royal Class ship will offer many of the same special features as Royal Princess and Regal Princess.
These include the dramatic multi-story atrium serving as the social hub of the ship; an over-the-ocean SeaWalk, a top-deck glass-bottomed walkway extending 28 feet beyond the edge of the ship; the Princess Live! interactive studio; and a special Chef’s Table Lumiere, a private dining experience that surrounds diners in a curtain of light.
Although the ship will focus on the Chinese market, its itineraries will be available to passengers world-wide, will enjoy experiencing cuisines from China, Japan, South-East Asia, Italy, France, and North America among other regions.
The ship will feature Princess Watercolor Fantasy, a fountain and music show; Movies Under the Stars with the largest outdoor screen at sea; and balconies on all outside staterooms.
Accommodations will be configured to appeal to families and multi-generational travellers and all announcements will be in English as well as Chinese.
Other highlights will include the World Leaders Dinner, traditional English afternoon tea, a Lobster Grill, Ultimate Balcony Dining, an ocean view hot pot dinner option, ballroom dancing and duty-free shopping.